Why are there so many runaway foreign workers?

There have been a lot of reports on foreign workers running from their employers in the news lately. Every week, it seems to be at least one runaway case. One has to wonder what has driven them to taking such a drastic action.

It brings to mind the local couple who have been charged for the murder of their Indonesian domestic helper. Maid abuse is nothing new; and it’s not isolated to Brunei either. However, is it possible that these foreign workers have been abused or taken advantage of by their employers? And running away is perhaps their way of escaping an otherwise nightmarish situation?

There is also the possibility that the COVID-19 pandemic has put a tremendous stress on foreign workers, especially uncertainty surrounding the future. When can they see their families again? Will their employers extend their work contracts? Are their employers financially secure given a lot of people have been made redundant due to the outbreak?
While I understand that these foreign workers have their respective embassies to turn to in time of crisis, I would like to know if there is a centre set up by local authorities to support them in terms of mental health issues.

Ultimately, this pandemic has turned the world upside down. The new normal is likely here to stay. If there’s anything that is needed more than ever, it is the famed hospitality that we have as Bruneians in lending a helping hand. Perhaps the authorities could help shed light on the seemingly upward trend of runaways among foreign workers in the country.

Miss A